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AWS & GenAI: A Computer Weekly Downtime Upload podcast

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We speak to Francessca Vasquez, vice president, professional services and GenAI Innovation Center for Amazon Web Services

Francessca Vasquez has worked in the IT industry for 25 year in a number of well-known firms including Oracle and Salesforce. In her current role, she looks after professional services and the GenAI innovation centre at AWS.

For Vasquez, innovation with technology is about digital disruption.

She says: “I've really spent my time trying to work directly with customers, helping them drive their business outcomes by leveraging technology.” She joined AWS seven years ago and is now very much focussed on artificial intelligence (AI).

“We're really driving digital disruption and leveraging the cloud as a way to enable businesses from startups to large enterprises to reinvent their business models.” Vasquez believes AI represented a major shift in enterprise IT. She says: “As you can imagine from the cloud to now generative AI, we're in a completely new era.”

Vasquez says Amazon has been doing AI and machine learning for well over 20 years. “If you think about some of the early innovations, where things like personalisation and recommendations were at the heart of some of our capabilities through our e-commerce site, much of that was AI and machine learning powered.

“We've been very fortunate in being able to expand what we've done,” she adds. “If you think about our fulfilment centres and how we think about robotics used for processing and sorting, that's all powered by machine learning. Our end to end supply chain and logistics and inventory and forecasting are also powered by machine learning. This has influenced how AWS is building services focused on AI, deep learning, machine learning and now generative AI.”

For Vasquez, enterprises building AI into their business strategy need to start out by considering the capabilities of their IT infrastructure, which is needed to build and train foundation models. At AWS, she says: “We've been investing very heavily in our own compute and custom silicon.”

Above the hardware, AWS operates a platform layer known as Bedrock for generative AI. Vasquez says: “This is really the managed services where we allow organisations to use large language models (LLMs) and foundation models.”

Bedrock offers what AWS calls a foundation for building and scaling secure generative AI (GenAI) applications. Specifically, it aims to provide a single platform via a single API (application programming interface) which Vasquez says, gives access to the company’s Titan LLM along with several third-party foundational models. These include the models provided by AI21 Labs, Cohere, Stability AI or Anthropic , Meta and Mistral AI.

She says: “What I get really excited about is at the top of our stack for generative AI is where you see innovation happening with the ability to build Gen AI applications.”

One of these AI applications is Amazon Q, a generative AI–powered assistant that can answer questions, provide summaries, generate content, and complete tasks based on data and information in enterprise systems. AWS says this can all be achieved securely.

Vasquez claims that Amazon Q will be revolutionary for software developers and businesses as it aims to transform the way work is done. It is being positioned by AWS as a tool to enable employees to be more creative, data-driven, efficient, prepared and productive.

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